My old sneakers are friends of mine


Here’s the song reference.  If you haven’t had a laugh today, you should give it a listen; you’ll need to scroll down a bit to get to the video player.

Mr. Man and Beanie share a common adoration for sneakers that have been so well-loved and well-worn that they neither fit not are able to maintain structural integrity.  As it happens, Mr. Man’s third pair of Spider-Man kicks completely disintegrated this morning, necessitating a visit to the store I generally avoid at all costs, but cannot live without because that particular store always has light-up Spider-Man sneakers in stock at a price our family’s budget can handle.  Sometimes, we have to give the nod to practicality.

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The last time we had to replace Mr. Man’s everyday shoes, I had quite the job convincing him the world was not ending and that he would, in fact, survive the retirement of his beloved footwear.  To give the little guy credit, he has yet to outgrow a pair of shoes that have not already been worn to tatters, and his last act before he goes to bed every night is to make sure they are securely tucked under his cozy bed.  There have been nights we’ve overheard him whispering a quiet “goodnight” to them.

The last time we had to replace his shoes, our first effort resulted in a pair of shoes that were actually slightly too small for him.  The rejected size 8s have, nonetheless, been gently tucked under his bed all the while, boon companions to his size 9s, and when the demise of the above-pictured shoes became apparent to Mr. Man, he immediately ran down the stairs, returning at a sprint with the too-small sneakers.  Ever so proudly, he sat on the couch, proclaiming, “Look, Mommy, I found the good shoes!” as he tried to stuff his feet into them.

After about fifteen minutes, he dejectedly slouched into the kitchen, where I was drinking my coffee and quietly checking web sites to see which local store had Spider-Man sneakers in stock in his size, to avoid a wasted trip (and a three-year-old meltdown).

“Mommy, I can’t get these Spidey shoes on.  They won’t cofloperating.  Can you help me, please?”

Baby Guy helpfully chimed in, “Helm you, helm you!”

I pulled Mr. Man, still clutching the little shoes, into my lap.  “I can try, big guy, but do you know what?  I don’t think I’ll be able to get them on, either.  See, let’s look at your old shoes.”  Tugging the tongue of one of the old shoes out, I pointed to the little number that indicated the size.  “See that number there?  What does it say?”

“That’s a nine, Mommy, I know numbers, that’s a nine.”

“Right you are, and that’s a good job.  Now let’s look at these shoes.”  Flipping up the tongue of the smaller shoes, I pointed again.

“That’s an eight, Mommy, that’s not a nine, that’s an eight.”

“Very good, Mr. Man, that’s an eight.  Now I want you to think for a minute.  Which is bigger, which is more, eight or nine.”

Grinning hugely, he clapped his hands together and bellowed, “Nine!  Nine is more!  Nine is BIGGER!”

Can’t laugh . . . not funny . . .

“Exactly right, big guy!  So which shoes are bigger, do you think, the eight shoes or the nine shoes?”

His brow creased, and he scowled at both pairs of shoes for a moment before slowly answering, “The nine shoes, the nine shoes are big enough for my feet, the eight shoes are small and the nine shoes are big, like Baby Guy is small and Mr. Man is big, eight shoes are Baby Guy size and not Mr. Man size.”

“Right, buddy.  You need new shoes.”

“I need new shoes.”

“Uh-huh.  We could go get them now in case you want to run and play outside.”  We have a 100-plus pound Saint Bernard mix who answers to Smudgie.  Running barefoot in our yard is unwise.

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“Baby Guy could have the eight shoes.  He likes Spider-Man, too.”

Baby Guy has had his eye on those shoes for a long, long time.  Every time he gets near them, Mr. Man threatens him with bodily harm.

“That would be a pretty awesome big brother thing to do, to let Baby Guy have those Spidey shoes.  Is that what you want to do?”

Baby Guy had, by now, stationed himself next to the chair where Mr. Man was perched on my lap, hanging on every word of the conversation.  Mr. Man looked magnanimously at his baby brother and declared, “Baby Guy is old enough for Spider-Man shoes.  He can have these.”

Needing no further invitation, Baby Guy scrambled up into an adjacent chair, smiled at his big brother, and excitedly inquired, “Mommy helm you put shoe?”

The small shoes were quickly adjusted to Baby Guy’s feet, and Mr. Man put his tattered kicks on for one last trip to the big box store.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the means to replace shoes for Your little blessings whenever their old ones wear out, for the van that gets us to the store, and for my husband’s job that has kept all of Your blessings from ever knowing what it really means to want for something.  Thank You for gracing their hearts, as they grow, with the desire to share even their most beloved possessions with someone who might need them more.  Please grant us hearts that always love people more than things, and make us good stewards of the rich resources with which You have provided us.

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